The fantasy week begins with the typical abbreviated slate -- nine contests, all under the lights. Most of the aces have the day off, leaving plenty of options for streaming. There's also a lush supply of bats to funnel into the open spots in your hitting lineup. Here's what you need to get the edge on your competition, in the form of pitchers and hitters available in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Nick Pivetta (R), rostered in 35 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves: It shouldn't be long before Pivetta's popularity in ESPN leagues picks up. Maybe there's some residual concern from when he teased us last season before reverting to lesser form. However, all the underlying metrics to date are pointing in the right direction, so it certainly appears his 2018 breakout is real. A 10.4 K/9 with 2.2 BB/9 is similar to what you get from Luis Severino and Jacob deGrom. Obviously, Pivetta isn't quite in that class, but the point is that he does appear to have matured from last season. All this said, the Braves are a tough draw, checking in as a top-10 offense versus righties, with a below-average strikeout rate.
Ian Kennedy (R), 10 percent, Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals: It never feels comfortable recommending Kennedy, who is quite prone to incendiary outings. On the other hand, he does miss bats -- and the Cardinals are not a big power-hitting team, especially with Paul DeJong sidelined. In addition, this interleague encounter is in Busch Stadium, so Kennedy will not have to deal with a DH.
German Marquez (R), 5 percent, Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers: Despite getting both Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe back, the Dodgers offense still isn't clicking on all cylinders and continues to whiff at an above-average clip. Marquez totes an impressive 8.9 K/9 into Dodger Stadium, a venue at which he'll enjoy a huge upgrade compared to Coors Field.
Pitcher to avoid
Chase Anderson (R), 60 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: Anderson raises some yellow flags, assuming he's cleared to come off the DL after a bout of food poisoning. First, he's likely to be less than 100 percent with respect to strength and stamina. Secondly, before getting sick, his velocity was down from last season. That feeds into his actual ERA and WHIP reeking from good luck. He's sporting a very fortunate .210 BABIP and an 80 percent LOB. His FIP is 6.01 with an xFIP of 5.29, both much higher than his current 3.97 ERA.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria hasn't formally named Nate Jones as his closer, but recent usage patterns suggest that is indeed the plan. Jones is available in a whopping 94 percent of ESPN leagues. With a winnable game against the Orioles on Monday's schedule, Jones makes for a stealth pick-up for those looking for saves.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The "*" symbol means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
Jorge Alfaro (R), 4 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Mike Foltynewicz): Finding a backstop on the Monday ledger is tough chore. Riding a streak is often a fool's errand, but devoid of any other matchup indicator, let's go with the option sporting a 1.029 OPS in the week leading up to Sunday's action.
Adrian Gonzalez (L), 4 percent, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Elieser Hernandez): Most people thought the Gonzalez experiment would be short-lived, but with 25 percent of the season in the books, the veteran is still getting most of New York's starts at first base with a righty on the hill. Some of that is out of necessity, but he's hit just well enough to warrant keeping his bat in the lineup. Chances are, he'll be hitting fifth against a raw righty who is still finding his way after being pulled into the rotation from the pen.
Rougned Odor (L), 48 percent, Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka): After hitting 63 homers over the last two seasons, Odor has yet to clear the fence so far this year. However, Odor's hard-hit rate is well above average and he's hitting a considerable number of fly balls. Tanaka continues to be one of the more generous arms with respect to homers allowed, serving up nine thus far in 51.1 innings.
Jedd Gyorko (R), 7 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Ian Kennedy): Gyorko qualifies at the hot corner but should be seeing a lot of time at shortstop. His forte is power, smashing 37 of his 54 long balls since 2016 against right-handed pitching.
Ketel Marte (B), 5 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Chase Anderson): It will be interesting to see how the Diamondbacks distribute playing time up the middle now that Jake Lamb is back in the lineup. In his stead, Daniel Descalso was one of the team's better hitters. Descalso can also play second, putting him in the mix with Marte and Nick Ahmed. Marte has been playing regularly, but could find himself on the outside looking in since Ahmed -- the better fielder -- has been hitting better than expected. As discussed earlier, Anderson could be in for a long night, so exposure to any Diamondbacks hitter is a good thing.
Brian Anderson (R), 21 percent, Miami Marlins at New York Mets (LHP Jason Vargas): Anderson isn't hitting for power, but, for the past month, he has hit a tidy .288 with 11 RBIs and 13 runs. While this may not be worthy of a permanent lineup spot, it warrants a spot start -- especially against a soft lefty.
Wilmer Difo (B), 7 percent, Washington Nationals vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Robbie Erlin): Difo has cooled off considerably of late, but continues to get a lot of playing time with Daniel Murphy and now Howie Kendrick out. Erlin is coming out of the bullpen for this outing. Even though the left-hander used to start, he's not stretched out to go deep into the game. It's always advantageous to deploy switch-hitters when faced with a parade of relievers.
Mark Trumbo (R), 30 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox (LHP Hector Santiago): Trumbo is in the lineup for one reason: He can slug those doubles and homers. Santiago is an extreme fly ball pitcher, with a below-average 90 mph fastball.
Daniel Palka (L), 1 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): When your slugging percentage is twice your batting average, you're smacking a lot of extra base hits. This syncs up well with facing Cashner -- a right-hander against whom more than half his hits allowed to lefties have gone for extra bases.
Robbie Grossman (B), under 1 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers (Blaine Hardy): Joe Mauer's stint on the DL opens up regular time at the designated hitter spot for the switch-hitting Grossman. The Tigers were hoping to start Jordan Zimmermann, but by selecting Grossman, the handedness of the foe on the mound doesn't matter. Grossman enjoys a platoon edge, regardless.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.